March sees box-office admissions dip on year

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March sees box-office admissions dip on year

This March was an especially slow month for the domestic movie industry as it posted an 8.7 percent drop in admissions year-on-year, according to the Korean Film Council.

The state-run foundation released its monthly box-office report on Thursday, which said that just 11 million tickets had been sold for the month - 1.1 million less than last March.

Overall sales also stopped at 89 billion won ($82 million), a year-on-year decrease of 6.1 percent.

Although March is traditionally a slow month because most distributors time their releases for summer, the lack of contenders in the local box office seems to have played a critical role in the lackluster result.

While five movies that recorded more than 1 million admissions were brought out last March, this year there were only three: British spy thriller “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” local comedy flick “Twenty” and U.S. musical drama “Whiplash.”

“Kingsman,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, caused an unexpected sensation in Korea.

It sold 2.6 million tickets, making up 23 percent of the box office during last month.

Up-and-coming director Lee Byoung-heon’s comedy drama “Twenty” took in 1.4 million admissions, while “Whiplash” sold 1.3 million tickets.

Although not many films passed the 1 million bar, which is considered the standard for determining whether a commercial film is successful or not, it was one of the brightest months for diversity movies - a term in Korea’s film business that refers to art-house or indie flicks.

A total of 1.8 million moviegoers selected diversity films at local theaters, with Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” making up the largest percentage. The number is an increase of 1.5 million people year-on-year.

Theodore Melfi’s comedy flick “St. Vincent” came in second in the box office’s diversity film category while Studio Ghibli-produced animation “When Marnie Was There” was in third.

Despite the drooping performance in March, however, April will draw a totally different picture as the summer season is expected to arrive earlier than usual with high-profile local film “Salute D’Amour” opening on Thursday and much-anticipated Hollywood blockbuster “Avengers: The Age of Ultron” arriving in Korea by end of the month.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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